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AICF secretary in the dock over sports code issue

Express News Service

NEW DELHI/CHENNAI: With less than two months left for the Chess Olympiad, the Delhi High court has come down heavily on the All India Chess Federation (AICF) and its secretary, Bharat Singh Chauhan, and stayed his election until the next hearing for violating the sports code.

According to the HC, Chauhan did not get a 2/3rd majority during last year’s elections as mandated by the National Sports Development Code of India (NSDCI). Chauhan is also the tournament director of the Chess Olympiad but it should not have a bearing on his position as the director.

Surprisingly, the sports ministry, during its hearing on Thursday, differed. There was high drama during the hearing over the Union government’s affidavit in the case. Additional solicitor general, Chetan Sharma, who appeared for the sports ministry (it grants recognition to AICF), filed an affidavit on behalf of the ministry.

This affidavit said, among other things, that two-thirds majority was not required by Chauhan to get elected as AICF secretary. The bench asked the counsel if he was sure of this and told him to reconsider the affidavit as it amounted to misrepresentation of criteria.

Interestingly, the bench of Najmi Waziri and Vikas Mahajan, a few days ago, delivered an order pertaining to the sports code violation by Hockey India.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, who was present in the courtroom for another matter, stood up and informed the court that in one of his matters concerning another sports federation, the ministry of sports had taken a stand that 2/3rd votes were mandatory.

At this point, the government counsel sought time to consult the ministry and returned to seek permission to withdraw the affidavit. The government, through its affidavit, tried to defend the AICF secretary but its argument was not accepted by the judges.

Mehra, who was present during the hearing, explained the piquant position of the ministry. “The ministry had made a submission in the court about the 2/3rd majority and said it is part of the sports code and is mandatory for all NSFs to follow during one of my hearings related to NSFs violating the sports code,” he said. “They pick and chose NSFs who they want to recognize and I have been highlighting this. I told the honorable court they were taking a divergent view.”

The court has said Chauhan did not get the 2/3rd majority. According to an order dated 31/05/2022: “Election for the office bearers for the period 2020-23 were held in 2021, in which R-3 (AICF secretary) has secured merely 35 votes, this is not 2/3rd majority , it should have been 44 votes out of the total number of 64 votes polled, even if the majority is considered of only the members present and voting.

Ex-facie he does not qualify to be elected as the secretary for the second consecutive term.” The order cited Hockey India’s verdict as well, delivered by the same court (Waziri and Swarana Kanta Sharma) that ruled on, besides other violations, 2 /3rd majority issue.

The court has left it to the AICF to deal with it. Chauhan said he would like to speak after he sees the order.

In fact, the ministry, in its affidavit, pointed out that the successful hosting of the Chess Olympiad should not be affected because of the case.

Atanu Lahiri, the joint secretary of AICF who was suspended by Chauhan last year and is in the rival camp, said they would not have any problem if he continued as Chess Olympiad tournament director. ” We are in favor of successful conduct of the Chess Olympiad even if it means Chauhan continuing as tournament director,” he said.

After this, there are some other federations who would be in trouble because of violating the 2/3rd majority code.

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